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In Houston, Arena Operating Company, manager of The Summit, has reached an agreement with Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp. in which The Summit will be renamed Compaq Center. Through the deal, Compaq will provide $5.4M over the next six years to upgrade the arena, including updating the telescreens, installing a new ice floor, replacing light fixtures, recovering the seats and upgrading the elevators and escalators. The renaming of the arena is subject to approval from the Houston City Council (Compaq). COMPAQ COMPETING? In Houston, John Williams writes that one of the Rockets' corporate partners is Compaq "rival" Hewlett-Packard. Hewlett-Packard holds advertising rights inside the arena during Rockets games. Williams reports that Rockets officials "were unclear" about whether they would "try to prevent" Compaq from advertising inside the arena. In other news, Compaq officials said that "they will explore putting computers at fans' seats so patrons can get statistical updates and, possibly, order food and drinks" (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/10).
Turner Sports & Entertainment unveiled design plans yesterday for its $213M development project in downtown Atlanta, which includes a new arena for the Hawks and Atlanta's new NHL expansion team. The arena, and the surrounding 12-acre development, is scheduled to be completed in September of '99. The arena will be built on the former site of the Omni Coliseum (TBS). In Atlanta, Unger & Saporta wrote that the arena will have "steel trusses supporting three sweeping roofs that resemble cards being fanned." The trusses will spell out "Atlanta" on one side and "CNN" on the other. Braves & Hawks President Stan Kasten: "We wanted it to be instantly recognizable and to make a statement -- at least as recognizable as the Sydney Opera House." The new arena's luxury suites will be "open" with no glass and will also be "stacked vertically," instead of horizontally around the arena, so fans will be "closer to the action." Also, 60% of the seats are either in the lower level or premium area (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/9). The Hawks will play their home games at both the Georgia Dome and on the campus of Georgia Tech ("Fox Sports News," 10/9). For a visual of the plan, see www.accessatlanta.com.
In today's WALL STREET JOURNAL, John Helyar writes on the "new wave of arenas ... aiming to restore a sense of intimacy and to get rank-and-file fans back in the game by giving them a better view." Helyar: "The Pacers may be the boldest players in this movement, having broken ground on a throwback arena designed to look like a high-school field house." Yesterday in Atlanta, TBS announced plans for a new arena "that will confine all suites to one side of the bowl and thereby offer much better seats to the suiteless on the other." In Toronto, the Maple Leafs "have ordered their architect to create 'the Camden Yards of hockey.'" Janet Marie Smith, the design chief behind Camden Yards, "has now turned her attention to arenas, heading up the planning for Atlanta's and consulting on Indiana's." Helyar writes that the Indiana Fieldhouse "will ooze nostalgia" from the '20s, with "metal seat-section signs printed with an old-style font; vintage-looking advertising signs; a scoreboard with an old-fashioned nondigital clock; even a section with pullout bleachers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/10).